The sleepy town of Broadchurch is turned upside down in this excellent new murder mystery, coming to ABC1.

4brbIf you love a good mystery, don’t miss Broadchurch, an 8 part UK series that ticks all the boxes.

The small seaside town of Broadchurch looks sleepy enough, where everybody knows one another and there’s only one road in and one road out. The town is dotted with historic buildings and there are rolling hills with dramatic ocean views. And it won’t be long before the town’s numbers swell with annual holidaymakers.

But darker secrets lay underneath and we are propelled into a whodunit when a body  is found on the beach below a towering cliff-face. Were they pushed? Did they fall? Or did something even more sinister happen?

Local criminal investigation officer Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) is ready to begin work on the case after returning from her holiday, but doesn’t take kindly to the news that a promotion she was expecting has been thwarted by the arrival of D.I. Alec Hardy (David Tennant), who has his own secrets after failed former cases.

Things get worse for Ellie when she realises the victim was a local 11 year old boy and friend of her own son. She reels in horror at the distressing news and strives to separate her own feelings from the clinical approach taken by Hardy.

In some of the more compelling scenes, Broadchurch doesn’t shy away from the trauma experienced by the boy’s mother Beth (Jodie Whittaker), either when she runs to the scene of the crime or when the police later confirm the identity of the victim.

Local Echo journalist Olly (Jonathan Bailey) is also nephew to Ellie and eager to break the news. His actions will compromise Ellie as well as draw Karen (Vicky McClure), a journo from the metro Herald, to the town. Her methodology to get a good story isn’t exactly the way the friendly locals are used to working.

As we follow Miller and Hardy piecing together the evidence, more questions are raised than answered. Peripheral characters in the town all seem to know something more they aren’t telling, or behave in ways that leave the audience intrigued.

These form a backdrop to the testy relationship between the two detectives and the emotional heartstrings pulled by the portrayal of a grieving mother. As mysteries go, it’s a loaded deck of cards.

Colman and Tennant are terrific in their central roles, matching one another as defiant characters. Unlike Doctor Who, Tennant retains his Scottish accent making him occasionally challenging to comprehend. Jodie Whittaker is painfully good as a mother in mourning. Australian Simone McAullay (The Strip, Home and Away, Blue Heelers) also appears as a local publican.

The directing style by James Strong makes the most of the evocative setting, using slow-mo, or including poetic shots of characters staring out to sea and tell-tale close ups of body language. These give Broadchurch added effect.

I was easily drawn into the mystery of this town and very satisfied by the uneasy relationship between the two central characters. It’s not hard to see why this has attracted award nominations and has been greenlit to a second season (without wanting to spoil myself I have no idea where it may go).

On plot twists, emotion, performances and storytelling style, Broadchurch is a winner. Can’t ask for anything more than that.

Broadchurch airs 8:30pm Friday ABC1.

10 Responses

  1. It looks terrific. It is clearly based on the idea of Scandinavian Noir but with the beach scenes in a seaside holiday town shot with wash out sunlight like it’s Australia to give it a unique take.

    It’s clearly going to follow a path like the Killing where they troll through everyone’s dirty laundry before they spring the killer at the end.

    The characters are OK but not as great as Sarah Lund.

    So far the writing of the plot has been fairly poor and they look like making it into yet another attack on the British media.

    Standard procedure is to announce that police are investigating a death and to release the name of the victim to the media as soon as relatives have been notified. Yet the chief detective seems to think that it is important to keep this secret from the media, and that you could or should. This is after the police have spent all morning blocking of the…

  2. Just saw this. Not bad, but not 4.5 star material. It relies on a cardboard cutout main character (wow, a haggard-looking cop on the emotional skids over a failed operation in the past – haven’t seen that one before!).

    The dialogue is also stilted and hokey at times. The scenes with the dead kid’s parents were emotionally flat and didn’t ring true.

    However, anything with the wonderful Olivia Colman in it I will watch. I give it 3.5 stars.

  3. Don’t read about it on Wikipedia, as the killer is revealed there! However, what is interesting is that they said that whilst filming, only 4 people knew who the killer was, so not the actors. The person who was revealed to be the killer only found out just before they had to shoot the scenes.

    Apparently it has been renewed for a second series.

    Well shot in the beautiful Dorest countryside.

  4. I look forward to being able to see the DVDs. The ad makes it look good. It’s just for the obvious reason I can’t watch it on TV.

    My latest extremely radical idea these days if they are too afraid to test what the ABC might be like without pop-ups and other silly stuff during the programming during the ratings. Why not test if the audience disappears during the Summer non-ratings period if you don’t do it. If not, then why do you need it?

    I’ll just point out they not only have a pop-up near the end of a show they then tell people after the credits end either what’s next on ABC1 & ABC2 or Next, Then and Later on ABC1. That’s assuming they haven’t chucked in an ad during the credits too. So within a 2 minute or less period they constantly tell people what is next at least twice or three times. Or the credit ad could be next week or some random show. And they probably wonder what could be upsetting or insulting about that. And I don’t mind if they waited until after the credits to tell people stuff if it makes them feel better. Just not all the rest. It’s too much.

  5. Thanks for the write-up, David. It sounds very promising and I’m looking fwd to seeing Colman in a meaty role. I’ve already circled it in red texta in the TV guide which unfortunately is on-line.

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